Putting Ourselves First: Diet & Exercise

When my 25-year-old daughter, Crystal, went for her first doctor’s appointment, she was told her cancer had nothing to do with anything she did. The doctor also told her about her cancer (Hodgkin lymphoma) and the treatments she would have to endure. Crystal learned about the side effects and that she would need a port. Most of what she could expect was discussed during her first visit to Sloan. Luckily she also did her own research and found out she should harvest her eggs for later use, keep her stress level down with exercise, and try to eat right.

A new focus on diet

Crystal had always tried to be healthy. She exercised, slept well (until she got sick), and ate a decent diet. After she was done with her treatments, she decided going back to her previous regime. Getting her strength back was important but she made a few changes.

She became vegan. This was partly for health reasons, but for her, it was also about animal cruelty. She had started looking into a vegan diet before she got sick, but decided it would be even more important now. Crystal also buys mostly organic foods. She doesn’t want to eat anything that might possibly be harmful.

Back to exercising after treatment

When Crystal finished treatments, she went back to exercising. She hired a personal trainer to help her regain her strength. This was a bit expensive, but she knew the cost was worth it. She had to get fit and she didn’t think she could do it on her own. She also started running. This was really tough for her at first because she had neuropathy, a tingling and numbness in her feet and lower legs, but she powered through. Running helped her to feel better both physically and mentally.

She became part of two running groups. Crystal knew exercise was important for so many reasons, and she had a goal. She was going to run a 5K (which she did!). Crystal has been doing her best to do all she can to be and stay healthy.

Reminding ourselves to be the most important person in our life

We all get bogged down in life and just trying to get through the day. Crystal, too, has daily routines and rituals, but she has decided that she has to be the most important person in her life. If she’s not healthy, she can’t be there for anyone else. Crystal makes sure to take or make the time to do the things she needs to stay healthy and be happy. She knows how important this is for her. I think it’s a lesson we can all learn from. Being strong and eating well can only help us to manage everything that we will face in life.

Putting ourselves first

Many of us put everyone else first. But, what Crystal said is so true. We really can’t help others if we don’t take care of ourselves first. With everything else going on in life, eating well, exercising, and trying to stay emotionally fit may seem difficult. But these things are extremely important, especially when facing the stress that comes with having cancer. Hopefully, we'll find that taking some time for ourselves will allow us to feel better and be able to give to others as well.

We suggest talking to your healthcare team before starting any new diet or exercise regimens.

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